I JUST finished a baby job. That's where the people are about ready to have a baby, and they decide to remodel their kitchen. In this case it was nothing big. Just some new paint and a couple of lights. Also a skylight in the dark corner by the fridge. Time was of the essence. First we ripped out the ceiling for the skylight. Loose insulation fell into our shirt pockets. We installed the skylight and also built a wing wall, something to separate the kitchen from the dining room.
``That wall is too confining,'' the woman said the next day. So we tore it out and also the other wall and cabinets and oven. Part of the other wall was holding up the dining room ceiling. We would have to have a post. By now it was Friday. We didn't want the post. I hustled off to the lumberyard in my old truck to get a beam, a big one.
So we got that beam in there, removed the post, and when I came back on Monday the people were in a hurry to get the job done. We weren't halfway yet.
We got the electricians in and out and started slapping wallboard on the ceiling. The electricians centered four lights over the island.
``Those lights are a little busy,'' said the woman. So the next day I removed two lights and repositioned the others. I was at the lumberyard when the husband called. ``We've got this baby coming, you know,'' said the husband to my guy.
On the windowsill there was a postcard sent to the owners. ``Greetings to the Bump,'' it said. That evening the wife came home early. The bump was getting bigger. ``Don't rush,'' she said, ``I've got 24 days.''
``Yes, ma'm,'' I said. But I thought: look in a mirror, lady. That kid's going to drop out any minute and you don't have a refrigerator, or oven. And the sink is on the way out and the living room is stacked with furniture six feet deep and an inch of dust on top and your husband is in a nest-making frenzy.
``I'd hate to bring a kid into this,'' the husband said the next morning.
We got the wallboard up and finished. They had a painter come. We put the subfloor down, and the vinyl guys dropped in and did their thing. I put the venting in for the range.
On Friday, the plumbers came to do the gas and the electricians to trim out. The cabinetmaker was gluing plastic laminate to the countertop.
``Can't we get some more people in here?'' he said. The oven showed up, and I got it shoved in and checked the burners on the range and got the electricians to figure out why the furnace all of a sudden didn't work. By the time we left, it was a kitchen again.
Two days later the baby was born, a big boy. He was 11 days early. On Monday, the cabinetmaker and I arrived to take care of details before the mom and kid came home. The father was hustling back and forth, his sister was pushing furniture around.
``The furnace doesn't work,'' the father said. I fixed the furnace. The father changed into slacks and a pink dress shirt. I heard him talking to his sister in the next room, the kid's room. ``I can't believe it,'' he said, ``in an hour the baby will be here, right here.'' The nest was ready.
The sister left to buy groceries, the husband to pick up mother and child. The cabinetmaker and I began to breathe again.
Then the phone rang. It was the new mother, speaking with an air of sleepy calm.
``I've been thinking,'' she said, ``about the tile on the windowsill.''